Sunday, December 18, 2011
On Being Reviewed
In sixteen days my novel will be out. I've gotten very nice reviews in Publishers Weekly, and the January issues of O and Elle. And then there's Goodreads. Because I'm getting very legitimate feedback from mainstream media that my book is worth reading, checking my reviews on Goodreads is like being addicted to crack even though I have access to the good stuff.
Let me put it another way.
Reading amateur reviews of your book is like eavesdropping at a slumber party, when everyone else thinks you're asleep. If someone says something mean or catty or false, your instinct is to call her out on it, but you keep pretending to be asleep so that she'll keep talking. That's how I feel. Like a twelve-year-old. Like the time I slept over at my best friend's house and someone put my bra in the freezer so the next morning I had ice cube boobs on my way to modeling class.*
Because of NetGalley, basically anyone can download a free copy of my book and "review" it in advance of its publication. Anyone can write something like, "Don’t let my three stars fool you: The Fallback Plan is a really good book." Or, "What I disliked was that she felt too deeply and thought deeply." Or, "There wasn't a lot of action and hardly any "plot" per say [sic]."
On her blog, Anne R. Allen recently wrote a guide to Amazon reader reviewing for the clueless, a post that I love. To summarize her advice to reader-reviewers: you're not writing for the New Yorker, not every book is trying to be War and Peace (or Anna Karenina for that matter), and if you actually liked it, give it more than 3 stars.
My friend Sarah advised that I pretend Goodreads is my ex-boyfriend's Facebook page, and avoid it in order to preserve my mental health. But I think I keep going back because I'm waiting for my ideal reader, my one true love reader...someone who reads my book and feels like it was written for her. Because that's the reading experience I've had with my favorite novels, and what inspired me to write one of my own.
True love reader, are you out there?
* Another story for another time.